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Why are sport stars central to celebrity culture? What are the implications of their fame? Proceeding from a broadly based discussion of heroism, fame and celebrity, Smart addresses a number of prominent modern sports and sport stars, including Michael Jordan (basketball), David Beckham (football), Tiger Woods (golf), Anna Kournikova and the Williams sisters (tennis). He analyses the development of modern sport in the UK and USA, demonstrating the key economic and cultural factors that have contributed to the popularity of sport stars, while examining issues such as race and gender, the impact of professionalization, growing media coverage, the role of agents and the increasing presence of commercial corporations providing sponsorship and endorsement contracts. This book situates the sport star as the embodiment of the various tensions of age, class, race, gender and culture. It argues that sporting figures possess an increasingly rare quality of authenticity that gives them the capacity to lift and inspire people. The book is a major contribution to the sociology and culture of sport and celebrity.

Heroism, Fame and Celebrity in the World of Sport
Heroism, fame and celebrity in the world of sport
The Popularity of Sport

Sport is now at the heart of contemporary culture and in the words of one commercially interested observer seems destined to ‘define the culture of the world’ (Phil Knight, founder and chairman of Nike corporation, cited in Katz 1994: 199). The importance of sport has long been recognised. Early in the twentieth century, Walter Camp, widely acknowledged to be the father of American football, is reputed to have described sport as ‘ “the broad folk highway” of the nation’ (Pope 1997: 3). Sport is recognised to be one of the key cultural institutions involved in the constitution of national identity. It is also of vital ...

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